Standards Based Grading

This summer in Reno I attended Scott Benedict’s presentation on Power Assessment (Teach for June).  I rethought my grading policy so that it would reflect some of the ideas that Scott presented.  I now use the following categories to calculate grades:

  • Speaking 20%
  • Writing 20%
  • Listening 15%
  • Reading 15%
  • Vocabulary 10%
  • Attendance 10% (school policy)
  • Other 10% (binder checks and things like that)

The speaking and writing categories are the trickiest grading categories for me.   1, they both take along time to grade and 2, sometimes the line between an A and B or a B and C can be very thin.  Here are some of the things I do to give grades in these 2 categories.


I give speaking grades for story retells, Estudiante Especial, and Acting.  On day 2 of a story we read 2 versions of the story, then the kids will do a retell or 2, depending on how much time we have.  The 1st retell will be with the person sitting next to them, the 2nd retell will be to the person sitting behind/in front of them.  Then I will call on a student or 2 to retell the story to the class (for a grade).

Once a month or so I will interview 2-3 students while the rest of the class takes notes.  This is what I call Estudiante Especial and it will last the entire period.  At the end of the activity, I will give each of the students interviewed a grade.

I also am trying to do a better job of using student actors in my stories.  I use the actor to get reps with 1st and 2nd person so I basically interview they kid as we progress through the story.

I’m not a big believer in a prepared or rehearsed presentation, but rather prefer a spontaneous one where the student has to come up with the language on the spot.  This is closer to real life language production.

In grading these activities, I simply give the student a +(exceeds expectations), √ (meets expectations), – (doesn’t meet expectations).   By the end of the semester I generally have a pretty good idea of the students level of proficiency.  I give a 95%-100% for students that generally exceed expectations, 85%-90% for students that generally meet expectations, and 75%-80% for students that do not meet expectations.


I grade the following 5-minute timed writing assignments:

  • Story rewrite
  • Creative write (student makes up a story using given vocabulary words)
  • Write from Pictures (student invents a story from pictures they haven’t seen before)

I don’t have time to grade every single one of these assignments so I will select 1 class from each assignment to grade.  When I read the sample I use a highlighter to mark each of the mistakes.  I have created a rubric that might need some tweaking but for now it works pretty well.  It factors in the number of words written in 5 minutes and the number of errors made to give me a grade.  A student in Spanish 2 would need to write at least 60 words in 5 minutes to get an A.  A student in Spanish 3 or 4 would need to write at least 75 words to get an A.  10/10 would need to be almost no errors.  9/10 would require 95% accuracy.  8/10 would require 90% accuracy, etc.  Below is the rubric I created.  It’s still a work in progress.


I give each student the opportunity to meet with me before school, beginning of lunch, and after school to sit down with me and correct their mistakes for a 1 point grade hike.  Most won’t take advantage of this but the serious ones do.






Image result for footloose 2011

Here’s an American movie we watch with Spanish audio and English subtitles.  Attached is the reading we do after watching the movie.  I have them do a written translation of version 1 into English as a warm up.  Then we read version 2 several times.  First time they read silently to themselves. 2nd time with a partner or small group.  The last time we read as a class.  I next give them each 1 minute to tell their partner about the movie in Spanish.  We end class by doing a 5-minute timed write on the back of the paper.


I need 3 days for a Video Talk

I distinguish between a movie talk and a video talk.  For me, a movie talk is class discussion about a full length movie.  When I was first exposed to the idea of using some of the numerous, interesting, short, animated You Tube videos as a means for delivering CI, it was called movie talk.  Nevertheless, I love doing these “Video Talks” primarily because of the level of interest it generates in my class.  Also, the visuals take a lot of the pressure off of me so I can be more of a facilitator of the discussion.  I try to do these once every 2-3 weeks.  I used to do these in 2 days.  1 day to show and discuss the video, day 2 for reading, retells, and re-writes.  This year I have been trying to do a better job of using actors (Blaine and Von Ray) to give my class more reps in the 1st and 2nd person perspectives.  With only 50 minute periods, I couldn’t get the reps I needed with the structures and actors.  So what I tried this last week with Partly Cloudy was to show and discuss the video the 1st day.  Introduce and interview the actors along with showing the video a second time on day 2.  Then using day 3 for reading, retells, and re-writes.  I was much happier with the results.

Parcialmente Nublado (Partly Coudy)

Recently showed this video and used the following structures:

  • Las nubes crean los bebes
  • Los pajaros toman los bebes.
  • Los pajaros dejan la bolsas
  • Los pajaros vuelven a las nubes

Could have used Hacen (instead of Crean), Llevan/Traen (instead of Toman), Ponen (instead of Dejan), Se Pone enojado , Regresan (instead of Vuelven).

Here is the link: Partly Coudy

Here is the reading. lectura-crea-vuelve-toma-deja